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Guardiola: Back to business for Man City against starving Copenhagen

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Pep Guardiola the manager of Manchester City looks on during a training session at Etihad Campus ahead of their UEFA Champions League match against FC Copenhagen on February 12, 2024 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Pep Guardiola the manager of Manchester City looks on during a training session at Etihad Campus ahead of their UEFA Champions League match against FC Copenhagen on February 12, 2024 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images)

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has insisted that it’s “back to business” for the defending champions as they take on a “starving and hungry” Copenhagen, who have not played a competitive match in two months, in the Champions League Round of 16 tomorrow.

City face their Danish opposition knowing Copenhagen pose dangers that aided in Manchester United’s exit from the Champions League group stages earlier this season.

Guardiola’s side are looking to win consecutive titles after they beat Inter Milan for the club’s first Champions League trophy last year in Istanbul.

They’re one of just two English sides, with Arsenal, to make it to the knockouts of Europe’s premier club competition after exits by United and Newcastle in the earlier group stages.

Guardiola on starving Copenhagen

“When I arrived eight years ago I had the feeling maybe this competition was too much for us, but our defeats and bad moments helped us to grow up and be in the position we are,” Guardiola said yesterday.

“Before, I felt: “Are you sure Pep, are we ready?”. Now, the whole organisation, the whole club believes we can do it. This is the best legacy we can give to the club – that Man City can compete.

“I would say that they [Copenhagen] are starving to compete and hungry, full of legs and fresh in the mind. They have had many, many times to prepare for the game. Hopefully we can be at a good level to compete.”

Copenhagen have not played a game in two months, having been on their winter break since December. In fact, they haven’t played a competitive match since their last Champions League outing against Galatasaray in the group stages.

“Of course it would be an advantage if we had been in full flow but it is what it is and we’ve been looking forward to it for a long time,” the Danish side’s head coach Jacob Neestrup said

“We’ve tried to have the best start regarding our training and the content we’ve had in training and the training matches.

“We feel we’re in a very good place. We go for playing a good game and delivering a good performance and play in order to get a result like we have done in the other Champions League matches.”

Arsenal will need to wait until 21 February for their Round of 16 first leg, against Porto in Portugal.

City’s second leg is 6 March while Arsenal’s return is 12 March.